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Want to Know What Truly Motivates You, and How to Always Stay Motivated?

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Want to Know What Truly Motivates You, and How to Always Stay Motivated?

When was the last time you wanted something very badly? Can you think of what drove you towards wanting that desire? And, if you did eventually achieve it, what were your motivations behind that?

When it comes to chasing after something you want, whether it’s a dream job, the car or house you’ve been dying to own, or even the love of your life, there are many forces that attract you towards that desire. Have a walk down memory lane, and think of the last time you were chasing after something that you eventually got, and think about what you went through to get it. What pushed you to get it?

What’s the Force Behind Your Desires?  

Chances are, if you were to look back at your journey towards that achievement, you would realize that at the heart of your motivation was having a specific Purpose. This is the most important driving factor allowing you to be motivated to work hard, or to find for solutions and ways to achieving your ultimate desire.

It’s important to have a purpose or objective, because once you have that meaningful objective, it creates a force that either pushes you forward or pulls you towards it. This push and pull is the basic driving force behind every type of motivation. Motivation can be broken down into two types: Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation. Understanding these two types of motivation will give you greater control over your self-motivation.

What is Extrinsic Motivation?

Let’s take a look at Extrinsic Motivation first. This occurs when we’re motivated to perform a behavior or engage in an activity to earn a reward or avoid punishment. Examples of this sort of motivation include working overtime on a project because you want some form of approval from your boss, or arriving to work on time to avoid being reprimanded by your boss. An extrinsic motivator could also be competing in a contest to win a cash prize or award.

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In each of these examples, the behavior is motivated by a desire to gain a reward or avoid an adverse outcome. It’s common for individuals to engage in a behavior not because they enjoy it or find it satisfying, but to get something in return or avoid something unpleasant. This type of motivation is due to an external factor.

What is Intrinsic Motivation?

Now on the other hand, Intrinsic Motivation involves engaging in a behavior because it is personally rewarding. So in this case, you’re now doing an activity for its own sake rather than the desire for some external reward or factor. So this could be wanting to play your favorite songs on the guitar, or watching a comedy at the cinema.

These behaviors are motivated by internal desire. In other words, the behavior itself is the reward, and doesn’t have to be supplied by an external source. Intrinsic motivation occurs when we act without any obvious external rewards. We simply enjoy an activity or see it as an opportunity to explore, learn, and actualize our potentials.

When was the last time you did something simply for the enjoyment of the activity itself?

What’s the Difference Between Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation?

The key difference between Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivation is that Extrinsic Motivation relies on an external reward or penalty, whereas Intrinsic Motivation rewards the behavior itself. If you now go back to think about the desires or achievements that you had in the past, were they extrinsically or intrinsically motivated?

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The reason why many fail to find sustained drive is because they rely a lot on External Motivation. If you want to have long term and sustainable motivation, you really need more of it to be driven by Intrinsic Motivation. Why is that?

The answer is simple. Extrinsic Motivation relies on external rewards or penalties. Once that reward or penalty is gone, this source of motivation will disappear. Also, external rewards or penalties are always finite, and you’re usually not in control of them.

On the other hand, with Intrinsic Motivation — the activity itself is already the reward. So its supply of “motivation fuel” can virtually be unlimited if nurtured properly.

How to Maximize Intrinsic Motivation?

Now that you know the importance of Intrinsic Motivation, the next step would be to maximize it and make it sustainable. As I mentioned earlier, Intrinsic Motivation is the key to long term, sustainable objectives. But, just having a meaningful objective is not enough. To make the most out of it, you have to nurture your Intrinsic Motivation.

It’s important to do so because Intrinsic Motivation can have diminishing returns. For example, you’re feeling thirsty, the weather is warm and you really just want to drink a can of Coke. It’d be great if you could have a coke in hand. Once you have it, it’s so satisfying drinking it. But, imagine I give you a second can, then a third can, and how about a fourth one? Your satisfaction will eventually diminish and you might even get sick of it. So this law of diminishing return occurs everywhere, even for our Intrinsic Motivation.

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How can you Increase Intrinsic Motivation?

Before you can begin nurturing your Intrinsic Motivation, it’s good to know the factors that make up Intrinsic Motivation. This will equip you to level up on your Intrinsic Motivation better.

1. Challenge

The first factor is Challenge. It’s important to set a challenge in your objectives. Then the process of attaining that goal is seen as possible, but not necessarily certain. This way when you eventually overcome every obstacle to achieve that goal, that directly increases your self -esteem.

2. Curiosity

The second factor to maximizing Intrinsic Motivation, is having Curiosity. This is when something in the physical environment grabs your attention (sensory curiosity) or when the activity stimulates you to want to learn more (cognitive curiosity).

3. Control

The third factor is Control. This is the ability to have greater control over yourself and/or your environment so that you can determine what you pursue.

4. Cooperation and Competition

Lastly, we have Cooperation and Competition. This is the satisfaction that you gain from helping others, or pursuing a shared goal through mutual support and camaraderie.

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It could also be the excitement and satisfaction from putting your skills and performance against others, and using it as a yardstick to push your own progress.

Nurture Your Intrinsic Motivation

Now that you know the main factors contributing to Intrinsic Motivation, you can focus on nurturing each factor to level up your Intrinsic Motivation. How can you maximize on each factor to increase your Intrinsic motivation when pursuing after something?

Once you’ve nurtured your Intrinsic Motivation, you’ll start to rely less on Extrinsic Motivations and you’ll find that your perseverance and drive to achieve something becomes much more enhanced.

You will find greater autonomy and independence too, knowing that you need not rely on external sources for acknowledgement, recognition or rewards. This in itself will already be very satisfying.

Applying one of the 7 Cornerstone Skills as covered in this article can already make a difference in your life, imagine learning the whole set of skills to live your best life! How to learn them all? We’ve got the solution at Lifehack — Find out More About Our Solution Here!

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Featured photo credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/B-EKZBoxKhY via unsplash.com

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on January 19, 2022

What Is Fear-Based Motivation And Does It Work?

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What Is Fear-Based Motivation And Does It Work?

If you’ve ever thought or said something like this, then you are using fear-based motivation:

  • “If I don’t get that promotion, I’m going to be seen as a failure so I better stay up all night to work on this proposal.”
  • “If I speak up for school reform, the internet trolls are going to get me, so I better be quiet even though I care a lot about this issue.”
  • “If I don’t exercise enough, I’m going to look like crap, so I better go to the gym six days a week, even if my body is killing me.”

Fear-based motivation is exactly what it sounds like—getting yourself and others to do things out of fear of what will happen if you don’t do it and do it well.

What you might not know is that while fear-based motivation might work in the short term, it can have long-term detrimental effects on your performance, relationships, and well-being.

Is Fear-Based Motivation Helpful?

If using fear as motivation comes naturally for you, you aren’t alone. Our brains use fear to keep us out of trouble. Normally, you want to move away from what feels harmful towards what feels safe.

This brain function is important when there is a genuine threat to your well-being, like if there is a rattlesnake on the hiking trail. Your brain will use fear to motivate you to move away from the snake as quickly as possible. But when you use fear-based motivation to accomplish your life and career goals, the constant state of fear puts unnecessary stress on your mind and body and can end up working against you.

The Darkside of Fear-Based Motivation

Take, for example, when your trainer at your gym motivates you during your workout by yelling things like, “Bikini season is coming! You don’t want your cellulite to be the star of the show!” or “Burn off that piece of birthday cake you ate last night!”

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Sure, you might be motivated to do ten more burpees, but what is going on in the back of your mind? You probably have an image of a group of people standing around you at the beach laughing at you in your bikini, or you feel guilty about eating that piece of cake and criticize yourself for not being able to control yourself.

Reliance on Negative Thinking

For most of us, this type of thinking causes stress and can bring down our energy levels and mood. The reliance on negative thinking is the problem with fear-based motivation. It forces us to put our attention on what is wrong or what could go wrong instead of anticipating and celebrating what is right. This, in turn, narrows our focus and prevents us from seeing the bigger picture.

When your brain senses a threat, whether it’s a rattlesnake hiding in the grass or the possibility of being laughed at in your bikini, your brain will move you into a protective stance. Your vision narrows and you prepare to fight, flee or freeze.

You can probably imagine what this looks like in the case of a rattlesnake, but how does this impact your bikini experience?

The High Cost of Fear-Based Motivation

Imagine that you plan a beach vacation with your friends three months from now. The first thing you picture is sitting on the beach with your tummy rolls and cellulite. You immediately sign up for three months of boot camp classes at the gym and banish all sugar and booze from your diet. You are determined not to make a fool of yourself on the beach!

Will the fear of not looking like a supermodel under the beach umbrella motivate you to get in shape and eat better? Possibly. But at what cost?

For three months, every time you picture yourself looking “less than perfect” in your bikini, you feel fear of being ashamed. Shame makes you want to hide, and that makes it harder to find the motivation to go to the gym instead of sitting on the couch eating ice cream.

You become so focused on how you are going to look on the beach that you lose out on all the fun and joy of life. You pass up on going shopping with your friends for new outfits because you aren’t at your goal weight yet. You stop doing the things you love to do to spend more time at the gym. You avoid family gatherings where you will be confronted with tempting food. You over-train to the point of hurting yourself.

The Healthier Alternative to Fear-Based Motivation

Now, there is nothing wrong with wanting to feel good in your bikini! If that’s important to you, keep your goal in mind but change the way you motivate yourself. Instead of using the fear of feeling ashamed to motivate you, try using love-based motivation.

Love-based motivation uses love instead of fear to lead and inspire you. It comes from a different part of your brain than fear-based motivation. Love-based motivation comes from the part of your brain that is responsible for joy, creativity, and passion.

5 Questions of Love-Based Motivation

There are many ways to deploy love-based motivation. The trick is to use one or all of the following to motivate you towards your goal: empathy, curiosity, innovation, vision, and heart-centered action.

Here are five questions you can use to motivate yourself using love-based motivation.

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1. What Would You Say to a Friend?

Chances are that you talk to your friends in a much kinder way and with more empathy than you talk to yourself. You wouldn’t tell a friend, “you better starve yourself and hit the gym three times a day to look good in that bikini!” Instead, you would probably say something like, “I’m so excited to go on this vacation with you! I can’t wait to spend time catching up while sipping margaritas on the beach.”

Talk to yourself the way you would talk to your friend.

2. What Are You Curious About Learning That Might Help You Get to Your Goal?

More often than not, achieving our goals is more about the journey it took us to get there than the goal itself. Curiosity makes journeys more fun. Perhaps you are curious about doing a triathlon but you don’t know how to run. If you spend three months learning to run, you would get into better shape and learn something new.

3. How Can You Get to Your Goal in a Way That Feels Good?

Using the “Yes, And” game is a great way to come up with innovative ideas for working towards your goals. If your first instinct is to go to the gym six days a week but you aren’t jazzed about it, find something that you like about that idea and make it better.

For example, if what you like about going to the gym is that you work up a sweat, what if instead of the gym, you join a dance class where you can learn some new moves to show off on your vacation?

4. What Is Important to You About Your Goal?

When you dig into your goal, chances are that you’ll find a deeper meaning. If your goal is to “look good in a bikini,” ask yourself why that’s important to you.

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For example, “I want to look good in my bikini because I want to have fun on vacation.” Then, ask yourself how much having fun on your vacation depends on how you look in your swimsuit.

5. What Heart-Centered Action Can You Take That Will Help You Reach Your Goal?

Whether your goal remains bikini-focused or changes to ways of having a good time on your vacation, choose an action that you can take that feels like it is coming from a place of love instead of fear.

For example, suggest to your friends that you take scuba diving classes as a group before vacation. It will get you moving and bring your friends together.

Long-Term Happiness and Satisfaction

Fear-based motivation may help you achieve your goals in the short term, but it won’t lead to long-term happiness and satisfaction. Fear isn’t designed to be used for long periods, and you will eventually tire of the fear and give up on your goals. Love, however, is designed for longevity.

Finding your motivation in a place of love will fuel you to reach your goals, whether your goals are about feeling good in a bikini, getting a promotion at work, or speaking up for what you believe in.

More Tips on Boosting Motivation

Featured photo credit: Jeremy Perkins via unsplash.com

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